Gardner v. Herz - 118 U.S. 180 (1886)
U.S. Supreme Court
Gardner v. Herz, 118 U.S. 180 (1886)
Gardner v. Herz
Argued April 19, 1886
Decided May 10, 1886
118 U.S. 180
Claim 2 of reissued letters patent No. 9,094, granted to William Gardner, Oliver L. Gardner and Jane E. Gardner, February 24, 1880, for an improvement in chair seats, the original patent, No. 127,045, having been granted to George Gardner and Gardner & Gardner, as assignees of George Gardner, as inventor, May 21, 1872, and having been reissued as No. 7203, to George Gardner, William Gardner and Jane E. Gardner July 4, 1878, namely,
"2. A chair seat made of laminae of wood glued together, with the grains in one layer crossing those of the next, concave on the upper surface, convex on the lower surface, and perforated, as a new article of manufacture, substantially as set forth,"
does not claim any patentable invention.
A patent cannot be taken out for an article, old in purpose and shape and mode of use, when made for the first time out of an existing material, and with accompaniments before applied to such an article, merely because the idea has occurred that it would be a good thing to make the article out of that particular old material.
The suggestion in the second reissue that "the seat is adapted to be secured to any chair frame, as it is easily cut and fitted to the same" is not found in the original patent, or in the first reissue, and is new matter so far as anything in it can be invoked to confer patentability on the article.
The question as to whether the thing patented amounts to a patentable invention may be raised by a defendant in a suit for infringement, independently of any statutory permission so to do.
Under the Constitution and the statute, a thing, to be patentable, must not only be new and useful, but it must amount to an invention or discovery.
In equity. The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.